Dr. Michael Cheng's foodservice career spans more than 20 years. A native of Malaysia, Cheng established the world's first and only academic discipline that blends culinary arts and food science, Culinology®. The Vilcek Foundation recognized his achievements by placing Cheng as a finalist in the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in the Culinary Arts in 2010 (Wikipedia). In March of 2006, Cheng received his second Research Chefs Association (RCA) President's Award where he was recognized for his continued innovation, dedication, leadership and extraordinary contributions to the RCA community. He received his first RCA President's Award in 2002 for establishing Culinology® as a baccalaureate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Since the inception of the first Culinology degree program at Nebraska, Cheng has been involved with establishing other Culinology programs, including Southwest Minnesota State University and Taylor's University, Malaysia.
Cheng previously served on the Hospitality Minnesota Educational Foundation, Research Chefs Association and Research Chefs Foundation Board of Directors. He was also previously the Vice-Chair of the Nebraska Restaurant Association Hospitality Educational Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Arts & Soup Festival and the Taste of the Nations' Chefs Competition. Cheng has taken his experience and expertise in the food industry and put his focus into establishing the Culinology® and Hospitality Management programs at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU), where he also served as Department Chair and Director.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor's Degree in Foodservice Administration and also a Master's Degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics, Cheng worked in various positions ranging Prep Cook to Food Service Manager. Prior to joining SMSU, he was the Assistant Dean of Math, Science, and Health Careers and Culinary Arts Program Director at Metropolitan Community College. He currently holds the designation of Certified Hospitality Educator from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Cheng received his PhD in Hospitalty Management through Iowa State University in Dec 2012. His dissertation is A Competency Model for Culinology® Graduates: An Evaluation of the Research Chefs Association's Bachelor of Science in Culinology® Core Competencies.
Striving to serve his industry and his community, Cheng is a sought-after speaker and was invited by the National Restaurant Association to be on a panel of Culinology® experts at the 2006 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago. Cheng has also presented at various national and international conferences, such as the Molecular Gastronomy Workshop at University College Cork, Ireland, the Research Chefs Association Culinology Expo, the League for Innovation, and the National Institute for Staff and Institutional Development. In addition, he has also been invited to judge several culinary competitions in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Florida. He has developed and taught a variety of courses, including Culinary Arts Basics, Introduction to Hospitality Management, Menu Fundamentals, Hospitality Facility Layout and Design, Restaurant Development, Foodservice Trends and Challenges, Catering and Banquet Management, Introduction to Food Science, Food Sensory Analysis, and Food Product Development.